August 17, 2005

Blog Basics

Blog Basics
As part of the requirements for our course, you’ll be expected to make regular postings to our course blog. Often, you’ll be given prompts in class; however, if you haven’t been given a prompt and you have something you want to share about the class—post it to the blog! This blog is designed to get you started posting to our class blog. Continue reading for an FAQ designed to help you if you get stuck!

Q: What is a blog?
A: Blog is short for weblog. Weblogs were designed initially to be an online journal. The idea here is that you don’t need to know how to design a website in order to author a blog. The drawback is that postings are listed one after the other—you can’t easily move things around. (This means that if you save all of your postings until the end of the semester, we’ll all know it!)

Q: Why are we using a blog for this class? What’s the point?
A: There are a few reasons why we’re using a blog. First, blogs are a good way to continue our discussion of anthropology outside of the classroom. Second, blogs can help you learn ways to organize your thoughts, in part, by writing more about what you’ve been reading, but also by using the “categories” function to organize your posts. I expect that you’ll categorize your postings, not just with your name, but also by article and/or any other categories that seem relevant to you (we might consider the titles of articles or major themes in the anthropology class for starters). Third, blogs are a growing technology (currently, the UThink blog site at U of M has 916 blogs by students, faculty, and staff). Fourth, blogs are fun!

Q: Where do I find our blog?
A: It’s located on the web at . If you go to that website, though, you’ll find that you can’t make postings. You have to login first.

Q: How do I login to our blog?
A: It’s best to use Internet Explorer. Go to . Notice that there is no www in the URL. On the left hand side, there’s a series of links. Click on the one that says “Login to my blog.” I have already added you to the blog, so just type in your U of M x500 number (same as your email) and password. If you do not know your x500 number, please see me immediately. If you login and don’t find our blog listed, please see me immediately!

Q: How do I post to the blog?
A: After you’ve logged in, you’ll be directed to a main menu page. On that page, you’ll see a link for Anthropology in the Morning. Under it, you’ll see a link for a new entry. You can click in either place—clicking on the title will take you to another menu page that will have more options. Once you’ve clicked on “New Entry” you just write your entry like you would an email. Instead of clicking “send” for an email, you click “save” and this will post your entry to our blog.

Q: What if I want to edit or change my entry?
A: Click on Anthropology in the Morning on the main menu page. The next menu page has an “Edit Entries” link, and that link will allow you to make any changes. Just click “Save” when you’re done and it will repost it to the blog.

Q: What’s a category? How do I make them? Why do I want them?
A: Categories are a way to organize our posts. Instead of only being able to scan through posts by the order in which they were posted, categories help us find posts according to a topic, author, or other common element (category) we’ve assigned to that post. A post can have more than one category. You can make categories when you’re making an entry. Just to the right of the title box (all of your posts should also have a title, by the way!), there’s a box that says “Assign Category.” At the bottom of that drop-down window is the choice “Create New Category.” You should create a category that has your full name in it (for example, Margaret Mead’s Blog Postings). You should use that category for EVERY posting you make. In addition, you can (and should create other categories). These categories will help us all search for information on the site, and they’ll also factor into your grade at the end of the semester.

Q: Speaking of grades, how will I be graded for the blog project?
A: The main thing I am interested in with the blog is to see you write a lot. Most of what you write (although not all of it) should be about anthropology and college reading. Currently, the UThink blog site does not have a spell check function. I am not grading you on spelling or grammar. I am looking to make sure that most of your postings are reasonably well formed (more than 2-3 sentences) and thoughtful. I’m looking to see that you’ve categorized all of your postings with your name and that most of your postings are categorized in at least one other way. I’m also looking for interesting and thoughtful comments on other people’s postings.

Q: How do I post comments to other people’s postings?
A: When you view another person’s post on the site (either go to the site directly or click on the View Site link after saving a post), there’s a link at the bottom of the entry to post a comment. Be sure to use your full name to make sure I give you credit at the end of the semester. When you’re leaving posts, try to write more than just a one line comment, such as, “That’s interesting!” Giving good feedback to classmates can be a challenge sometimes. Try to share your thoughts on the writer’s subject, share points where you might disagree a little, share your perspective, or make connections between what the writer mentions and something else we’ve talked about in class/another reading/ a film, etc.

Q: Can people who aren’t in our class read and/or post to our site?
A: People who aren’t in our class CAN read our site. Our blog is on the internet and open to anyone who might surf across it. If you have any privacy concerns because of this open nature of our blog, please let me know. We can always create an alias for members of the class if we don’t want to share our identities outside of class. People outside of class cannot make postings to our blog, but currently, they CAN post comments to our blog. In the past this has happened only on rare occasions, but again, if as a class or individually, this presents a problem, we can discuss making the comments closed to only the blog authors.

Q: I’m interested in learning more about how UThink blogs work. What can I do?
A: UThink blogs are free (and unlimited) to all students, faculty, and staff at the
university. All you need to get started is your ID and password. People at the U keep blogs for a variety of reasons—some are personal blogs that are similar to a journal; others focus on an area of interest, such as sports. A popular use of blogs among college students is to share their college life with friends/family back home. You can also use blogs to keep track of research for a paper you’re writing or just to learn more about how blogs and webpublishing work. I recommend checking out other UThink blogs by looking at the UThink blog directory, and then starting a blog (or two) of your own!

Posted by goett004 at 3:16 PM